Rummaging through a dresser drawer this week, my hand closed around one of my little pouches of runestones and of course, I had to pull them out for a look. I’ve always had at least one set of stones (or cards bearing the symbols) on the go since I was a teenager, when so-called New Age paraphernalia was something I had to smuggle into my house and squirrel away from the beady eyes of my Roman Catholic family! I only use the runes sporadically, but as we find ourselves in this period of what’s largely one great unknown, I am feeling drawn back to developing and deepening my understanding of runic lore.
Before I even reached into the little black velvet pouch to tip them out, one particular symbol flashed into mind and it was of the ‘Isa’ rune, photographed here with my cat Yoshi (who leapt on to the bed to investigate what was going on as soon as he heard the soft clinking of the stones). I feel that this symbol perfectly sums up the current situation in which we find ourselves, because its meaning literally translates as ‘ice’. Within the inherent properties of ice we find a freeze; a standstill, and in my interpretation, an enforced period of stasis. Here in the UK, we have very recently stepped into the beginning of springtime and are watching with relief as buds are shyly unfurling and the gradual brightening of the sky’s blue hue.
The days are slowly lengthening and so I type this while an almost ghostly, watery light streams in through our living room window. Visible hope after the dark days and stormy, wintry weather is creeping into our lives, and yet we find ourselves constrained by something much bigger than us just now; rather like the connotations of the Isa rune. What wisdom can be found in this indefinite period of life looking completely different to anything most of us have ever known in our lifetimes?
Like everyone else, I am still learning and will continue to do so with each day that passes. The initial panic I felt at the beginning of the first lockdown twelve months ago is slowly metamorphosing into something more reflective and I have almost (I say ‘almost’ because some days it is easier than others) thrown my palms to the sky in surrender to what none of us can control, no matter how much we would like to.
Returning to Isa, something interesting came to mind this weekend when some friends and I were discussing in our WhatsApp group the fact that we are all so tired, despite spending more time at home with our families than ever and physically doing a lot less. Notwithstanding that Spring is upon us, my perception of this time is that humanity is experiencing its own Winter; by that I mean we have largely lost sight of the fact that we are cyclical beings and so our respective bodies and psyches are finally sinking into relief, now that we are forced to observe this period of standstill. Winter is a time of hibernation and rest for all beings, or at least it is meant to be.
Whilst everything feels very difficult at the moment as we all adjust to a new normality – whatever that means for each of us – I hope that my words have helped you to observe this phase of our time on Earth differently. Just as the curtain of green is beginning to return to the bare trees and tender shoots are popping their heads through the soil, we too can allow ourselves to feel some hope in the spirit of Spring, whilst embracing the deep rest in the halt that has settled across our lives like a blanket of snow…or ice.